Report on Modern Day Slavery Summit, Manchester

Modern Day Slavery Summit, Manchester Town Hall Thursday 15 October 2015 

IMG_0038A 180 attendee conference, comprising a broad spectrum of professionals from both the statutory and voluntary sectors.

The format of the all-day event consisted of formal speakers; interactive dvds of anonymised trafficked victims; dvds of police officers investigating alleged slavery activities; NSPCC personnel providing real life MDS stories; round table discussion groups on MDS case studies.

Tony Lloyd, Mayor, spoke of the dilemma of protecting the trafficked victims due to the resource implications involved, which is not always popular with the general public. “Partnership working is the key.”

Offer Stern-Walker Head of the MDS Unit, Home Office, spoke of the lack of reliable figures for trafficked victims in the UK. The new MDS law provides tools to allow the police to act; courts to have powers of sentences; assets to be seized from perpetrators to help victims; notifying authorities of illegal employment practices does not constitute prosecution of victims.

Sir Peter Fahey, Chief Constable GMP, spoke of the public being vigilant to reporting unusual activities and criminality that could lead to MDS issues. Prevention is the key, and greater powers of sentencing will prevent re-offending. Safeguarding is a major factor when young victims are involved. He explained the changing nature of policing today. Moving away from traditional expensive resource statistics gathering eg motoring offences to addressing population needs, multi-agency integration teams, office sharing of MDS personnel. Current ‘MDS Challenger Project’ in GMP will put vulnerable people first and safety a priority focus.

Kevin Hyland Anti–Slavery Commissioner (former Police Officer) spoke of the misrepresenting/misreporting MDS ethos in the past. He complemented GMP on their huge increase in prosecutions during the past twelve months. Surprisingly Canary Wharf in London has been a huge hotspot for MDS activities. Sharing data will help to save lives. Partnerships with Faith Groups have been found to be hugely beneficial.

Ross Jackson Head of Crime GMP spoke of the MDS epidemic, which is currently occurring in the UK. In Greater Manchester last year only 2 crimes were reported, this year 67 crimes have been reported so far (more than the Metropolitan Police). He urged front line staff to be alert and vigilant to coercive behaviour, false claims for benefits and money control tactics. Key points –partnership, joint vision, alert recognition of MDS and understanding victims’ needs.

Mandy John-Baptiste NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) challenged, ‘Would we recognise the signs of MDS?” These would include unexplained injuries, socially withdrawn, poor hygiene, living at place of employment, bars at windows, unusual comings and goings, working long hours, overcrowded conditions.

Role of CTAC; –

  • Coordinate and advisory – support, leaflets, training.
  • Advocate for children – expert reports, statutory meetings and casework.
  • Influence and challenge from a wide perspective.

Paul Broadbent, Chief Executive Gangmasters Licensing Authority, gave a very powerful presentation on the major issues of MDS. The government, following the cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay tragedy set up the Authority. He stated there were 21 million worldwide MDS victims and in Europe 888,000.  Jobs highlighted as risk situations for MDS include agriculture, food packing & processing and cleaning.

Types of slavery; –

Bonded labour, forced labour, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, organ harvesting, trafficking and organ donation.

Associated crimes: –

Sham marriages and college fraud.

Ending this action packed day we were left with – What can we do?

  • Educate yourself and be aware of possible MDS.
  • What action to take and when.
  • Contact Crimestoppers if suspicious.
  • Use Fair Trade products.

Benefits for Soroptimists- Networking, raising awareness of Soroptimism using display and literature, offers from various agencies and police to visit Clubs and Region explaining what their role involves with MDS and reciprocally to learn more about our organisati

Margaret Molyneux, Region Chair PAC, South Lancashire

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